The year 2017 has been a pretty good one for Wonder Woman fans. We got her solo film, which was great, as well as the ensemble Justice League film. People who love the character but are tired of massive CGI fights even got some bonus content this fall with Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a biography about her creator and the real-life women who inspired him.
It's just a Wonder Woman adoration fest this year, which she'd appreciate because she's all about fighting evil with love. If it seems like we've been waiting forever to see Wonder Woman on the big screen, we've learned it could have happened way sooner.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers movie writer/director Joss Whedon had plans to make a movie about the origins and first adventure of Diana Prince 10 years ago, but the project never got past the writing stage. Recently, that script showed up on the internet, and it presented a vastly different version than what we got this year.
The internet kind of exploded in either condemning Whedon's Wonder Woman or claiming, correctly, that this was surely an early draft, and it would have certainly been different by the time it hit theaters. Either way, the leaked script contains some interesting things, and it's worth a study. However, if you don't have time for that, we've done it for you.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn't Know About Joss Whedon's Canceled Wonder Woman Movie.
Most versions of the Amazon warrior princess agree on one thing: she’s been adventuring in Man’s World for a while. Her original comic book run had her in a World War II setting, and director Patty Jenkins’ movie pushed events back 30 years to the trenches of World War I.
Whedon’s version, however, was modern and had Steve Trevor’s plane crashing onto the hidden island of Themyscira while he was en route to deliver relief supplies to a country under warlord control. From there, Diana and Steve went to a technologically advanced city to stop another, even bigger threat.
We don’t mind this change so much. She debuted in 1941, so her original adventures take place in what was then the modern day. As much as we loved the setting in this year’s film, it also makes sense for a new version to stay contemporary.
Another element common to most versions of the Wonder Woman mythos is that the Amazons aren’t sure what to do with Steve Trevor once he washes up on their shores.
In the first issue of Wonder Woman, the Amazons are happy just to get Steve on his way as soon as possible to be rid of him. However, later adaptations have the warrior women deciding that the only way to save their utopia from outside interference is to kill the intruder.
That’s the case in this script, but Diana comes to Steve’s aid by invoking the sacred “Right of Trial” to let her fight for his life. All she has to do is defeat Themyscira’s greatest warrior, and Trevor can live. In this case, that means her own mother, Hippolyte.
Diana wins mostly because her mother recognizes that she’s determined to leave. The rest of her victory is because her mother’s sword shatters on her unbreakable skin, so we’re really curious why superpowered beings would fight each other with swords in the first place.
Just after Warner Bros. and production company Silver Pictures relieved him of his writing and directorial duties, Whedon wrote a blog post about what had happened. He was open about his firing and relieved that it had happened before everyone had wasted too much time (other than the presumed years he’d spent writing the script, of course).
“It’s pretty complicated, so bear with me,” he wrote. “I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked. Hey, not that complicated.”
The post comes off surprisingly relieved. Whedon says that everyone was professional about it and that it was simply a difference of opinion. He mentions the “horrible limbo of development” that he’d avoided, which is just good news for everyone involved.
He’s since written and directed two Avengers movies, helped with Justice League, and is set to take on Batgirl, so it seems like everything’s worked out just fine for him and comic book movies.
Whedon ended his post announcing that his involvement with Wonder Woman was over by saying, “Finally and forever: I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistent front-runner. I didn't have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air-balling on the script.”
However, in a post-script, he mentions, facetiously or not, that he was looking at Cobie Smulders for the role. We mention this not because we think it was actually going to shake out that way, but because we think that, jokes aside, that would have been some solid casting. We love Gal Godot’s take, but we would have also loved Smulders' version.
Whedon eventually directed Smulders in his Avengers movies, so at least that worked out.
Wonder Woman has a variety of powers, depending on who’s writing. The ones most people agree on, however, are super strength, fighting prowess, and the ones her specific and magical Amazon gear bestows upon her.
Less well known is that because Themyscirans are almost as old as the planet, they were present for the beginnings of language. In the mythology, all language comes from a single source that they’re familiar with, so they understand all of it-- and that extends to animals.
At several points in Whedon’s script, Diana communes with animal pals, usually for dramatic effect. She does this to make a big entrance just before she challenges her mother for Steve’s life. This leads to a halfway decent joke when the condemned man sees some big cats show up and questions the “quick” death his captors had promised him.
“You’re gonna kill me with panthers?” he says. “That’s not quick!”
Unlike the movie we got, Ares is not the main villain of Whedon’s version. Instead, it’s the god of war’s nephew, Strife.
This script’s version of the character differs in a couple important ways, not the least being that the mythological and comic book versions are female. However, this incarnation interestingly foreshadows Justice League’s main baddy Steppenwolf, who is the nephew of Darkseid.
That’s particularly interesting because in the books, Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle, and these family connections are complicated enough without creators flipping them around all willy-nilly.
Strife is the god of discord, which basically just means he’s Ares Light, causing trouble around the world to keep himself in power. The project didn’t reach the point of character design, but he assume he would have been a big guy in armor with a scary helmet. That’s basically how these movies work.
Wonder Woman has 70 years’ worth of villains, but that didn’t stop Whedon from creating a brand new one for his project: Arabella Callas.
Callas is a war profiteer who has a secret, horrifying shrine to Ares in her corporate office. She retreats there to pray and plan with Strife, presumably because even the most worker-bee of corporate drones might notice if their boss takes regular meetings with a giant, evil guy in a cape who materializes out of the floor.
The new character is the leader of Spearhead, an arms manufacturer and supplier that — shockingly — has a vested interest in actively preventing world peace. As antagonists go, this is pretty cookie-cutter and boring, but at least Callas’ evil plan is sufficiently insane for a comic book movie.
Unlike Marvel, which sets approximately 98% of its stories in New York, the DC universe has a multitude of fictional cities for its heroes to fly around in. These include Gotham, Metropolis, Keystone, and Central City, and Whedon uses another established location, San Francisco stand-in Gateway City, for his script.
In the books, both Wonder Woman and the Spectre have called Gateway home, so this would be the obvious choice for this movie. The comics place it in California, but the script doesn’t specify.
It’s a sprawling urban center with the Spearhead building dominating its skyline and the social strata both obvious and overstated. Callas towers above it all, looking down, and Diana spends most of her time at street level, where all the trouble is.
A montage shows her stopping a few criminals before she meets a 10-year-old girl whose cat is stuck in a tree. “Climb it,” Diana says.
Both Marvel and DC comics contain characters called Chimera, but Whedon’s script takes the name in a different direction.
The “Khimaera” is a huge digging machine shaped like a multi-headed monster that Strife and Callas plan to use to destroy Gateway City to further their nefarious plan of … something. Diana gets the CEO in her Lasso of Truth and asks her to explain the scheme, and it’s not very clear.
“People get above themselves, and hey need to be reminded how fragile they are,” she says. “Gateway will be the first of many great cities to collapse and we will enter a golden age of fear and apathy and everybody in the world will do as they’re told.”
It’s a lot of resources to throw at simply freaking everyone out, but if we’re honest, we’d probably build a huge robotic beast if we had the money. However, we’d only use it for good.
We’re all for new takes on our old favorites, but Joss Whedon’s version of Wonder Woman is a bit less consistent than we'd like.
Mostly, this means that she’s quick to fight, which is in keeping with her Amazon upbringing but feels pretty psychopathic as we read it. She absolutely hates guns, probably because the first thing that happens when she and Steve arrive in Man’s World is that a warlord shoots her in the chest. We understand.
However, Diana angered the warlord by questioning his masculinity, which is not a tactic a kick-butt lady raised in a society of awesome ladies would use. In a later scene, she forgoes punching to draw out another character with an alluring dance while everyone else in the room ogles her. It’s all just super weird.
In Whedon’s script, as in the comics, Wonder Woman loses her powers if a man binds her wrists together. Strife does this to get her out of the way while he’s finalizing that whole “digging robot monster” scheme.
Strife sends the now-powerless Diana to South America, where she learns humility or something through exposure to the kindness of strangers. Then she learns that her mother has been watching over her the whole time, which strengthens her resolve enough that she steels up and snaps the chain, restoring her superhuman abilities.
This really doesn’t make any sense, since that’s not how weaknesses work. We would call foul if Superman managed to overcome an exposure to deadly Kryptonite by learning the true meaning of Christmas, and this scene is not much different from that.
Whedon used as much of the Wonder Woman mythology as he could, which includes her only possession more ridiculous than the ability to talk to animals: the invisible jet.
We have mixed feelings about seeing this aircraft in live action because while it is an important part of the character’s history, it also seems like it would be impossible to film without looking completely ridiculous.
The invisible jet is such a silly idea that later writers just gave Wonder Woman the ability to fly like Superman. However, the script reaches a sort of compromise. Diana operates the craft while lying down. So it looks like she’s flying, but she’s surrounded by the odd, shimmering outline of a plane.
We don’t think it would have worked visually, but it was a nice try.
The modern-day setting comes fully to bear at the end of the script, when Steve hatches a high-tech plan to defeat Strife. It makes approximately as much sense as the one the villains cooked up.
Steve and his team of one-dimensional guy pals trick Strife into stepping in front of a bunch of video cameras which are all streaming him live to the internet. The idea, apparently, is to put a face on Gateway’s destruction if it happens, but we don’t know how Trevor’s audience would connect those dots.
It doesn’t really matter, though, because Strife immediately orders the Khimaera to surface, which it wasn’t supposed to do because the whole point was to destroy Gateway with no apparent cause to create as much terror and confusion as possible. So maybe that was Steve’s plan? We have no idea what the livestream was for.
While he wasn’t the main villain, Ares does show up at the very end after Wonder Woman kills Strife. This is just a cameo; the god of war shows up to berate Diana for killing his nephew and tell her that he’ll see her in the sequel... and then he leaves.
It’s a little anticlimactic. but at least it doesn’t devolve into another confusing battle with a CGI man. That was one of our few problems with Wonder Woman, and we neither needed nor wanted a repeat.
Still, it felt a little shoehorned in. If we count the evil machine, this upped the villain count to four, which is enough for two Batman movies. For all the impact he had on the plot, Ares could have just sat this one out.
It’s unlikely that either the DC Extended Universe or the Marvel Cinematic Universe will ever let a character drop an f-bomb outside of the MCU’s Netflix offerings. Those shows contain all of the adult content.
However, Whedon was working in a pre-Iron Man time when normal movie rules applied. So the script contains one f-word, and Steve Trevor says it. To Wonder Woman. It comes during a tense scene when Steve calls her heroism into question.
“You’ll make your show, fight your fight, and people will love you for it, and then they’ll need you for it and it’ll start to grate, to bore you and one day you’ll just go back home to paradise,” he says. “You’re not a hero, Diana. You’re a f***ing tourist.”
We’ve come to expect this sort of thing from the X-Men movies, but it feels really out of place in Wonder Woman.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Joss Whedon's canceled Wonder Woman movie? Sound off in the comments!